~21st Hour, 8th Moon, 13th Sun, 40th Year of King Yuri's Reign:
Today, as the kingdom gathered with the Muses for the annual Storytelling Festival, many tales were told, and a merry time was had by all, including the Muses, unaware of what lied ahead in the evening. Hagalaz, Dark Augur and self-proclaimed Muse-pelter (often fond of saying "When life gives me lemons, I throw them at Muses"), seemed strangely quiet as the evening wore on.
When Druidess Nourah had finished a tale, I opted to choose a random book from the dusty recesses of the library. I came across a hidden book called "Stones," with the emblem of a serpent. It was not a storybook, but rather, a book of hexes, curses, and other dark witches' aids. We believe JaydePhoenix to be the author of this book.
The old legend "Stones" served as a preface to the book, and following that was a word from the author:
``Be warned, ye who reads this: This manuscript is among the darkest and most evil of books! Anyone who dares to read without consent of the author will be cursed to whatever ill fate is read within this anthology of hexes, curses, dark rituals, and ailments! In fact, the curse has already been set! Pace yourself in reading through, and each curse will afflict you individually... otherwise, they will all occur at once at a random interval in the future, and the shock of each will be more than fatal--it will follow your spirit, and mire in the recesses of the afterlife!
Signed With Serpents' Blood,
/\///////////////////////////\ (It's illegible!)
14th Year of Yuri, Koguryo``
Obviously, it was too late to stop reading the book--we, the Muses, have been cursed by its evil, and must now suffer the fates that are read from it, pacing ourselves through each curse, lest we suffer a fate worse than death.
We read through a few hexes, suffering very nasty curses in front of everyone, including one that turned us inside out, one that jarbled our speech, one that forced us to interrupt each other, and even an expletive-laced "Curse of Curses!" Indeed, we were making excellent progress in weathering what seemed to be a lot of minor curses, but then we got to one which we had no choice but to read...
``Dark Ritual to Unbalance the Yin & Yang:
This hex will begin the process of unbalance that we dark witches have sought for many years! It took much painstaking research on my part to find it, but, to be honest, it bores me. I merely include it here as a show of my vast knowledge. (To further unbalance the tao and bring overwhelming darkness, one can refer to a later ritual, encrypted in the language of Serpents.)
(The incantation follows, and I will not repeat such foul words!)``
With that, the book flew from my hands and into those of Hagalaz, Dark Augur and hater of Muses. He made a wicked resolution, his high-pitched laughter nauseating us all, to deliver to the Muses a new curse each day. And with that, he cast the Curse of Nakedness upon us. We can no longer wear clothing of any sort, lest the heat from it overcome us. Hagalaz did not break the curse in preparation for a new one by turning the page, either, and, in fact, intends to deliver a new curse to us every day, for an entire day each!
However, much more horrible is what Hagalaz intends to do with the unlocked ability to disrupt the balance of the Yin and Yang. Should darkness overflow and overcome the light, a Dark Augur such as Hagalaz will feel right at home, but the world...nay, creation itself will suffer greatly! Have we not fought those that wish to disrupt the balance of the tao, the etherial greatness, and our peaceful existences before?! Has Hagalaz gone mad?!
I will be in contact with Shaman Elder Wildhair and Diviner Elder Sarina, regarding breaking the curse upon the Muses and stopping the mad plans of Hagalaz. However, now there is nothing we can do except wait--wait for the next hex, and the next step in Hagalaz's wicked ritual.
The power of "Stones" has been unlocked, and I hate to think of what is yet to come.
-Kiyone, Muse Maestra-
5th Hour, Ninth Moon, Fourteenth Sun, Fourtieth Year of Yuri's Reign:
After a month of suffering Hagalaz's fiendish abuse of the curse the book "Stones" placed upon us, the book has finally been recovered by the Muses. Hagalaz, Dark Augur, recieved the book after a spell to begin the swelling of Yin and overflow of dark energy was cast upon the Muses. This hex, and all that Hagalaz delivered to us--a new one each day, for an entire day apiece--are the product of this evil manuscript, which cursed us Muses to all that was read within.
As he was using the book's curses upon us to amuse himself, Hagalaz, meanwhile, began building a Dark Army, assumed to be for the purpose of invading Kugnae or Buya, or attacking the Muses. When Hagalaz delivered one of his daily hexes at the palace of Prince Mhul, Mhul declared him to be an enemy to the Kogurian state, and placed a warrant for his arrest.
Hagalaz finally showed the purpose of his dark army when he posted his own decree--a war of light and dark, to be fought at the grounds of the Kugnae Royal Army, in their training hall. The Muses, Diviner Elder Sarina, and the noble knights of the Ch'on'gun all asked the community's assistance in stopping Hagalaz's quest for darkness.
The evening descended upon Koguryo, as powerful fighters gathered, dedicating themselves to either Yin or Yang. As the doors were thrown open, each side grew restless, and sneaky pre-emptive attacks created casualties even before the battle had begun. When the battle had begun, both sides fought hard. At first it seemed the fighters of light would win, until the scales were tilted with the arrival of someone unexpected: Shamaness Elder Wildhair, who refused to let the Muses have "Stones!" The forces of darkness then seemed to overpower the light, but the light fought back resiliently... Back and forth this little game went, until, after much blood had been shed, Hagalaz began to laugh.
Hagalaz thanked us, at midnight's time, as the rain began to pour over Koguryo, and night descended, for creating the bloodshed to allow an overflow of Yin, and achieving his goal for him. Those fighting for the light had only aided the dark in creating the chaos he had hoped for. In celebration, he opened "Stones," preparing to deliver a new hex to the Muses in celebration.
Unfortunately for Hagalaz, he had come across a page of Dark Aids, and as he read out the "Empathy Spell," something amazing happened! Hagalaz began to feel empathetic towards the plight of the Muses, and apologized for the trouble he had caused! Defeated by his own game of toying with hexes he had no knowledge of, Hagalaz could only understand too well the pain of the Muses, pain that he had caused; as he returned "Stones" to elder Kiyone (amidst clamoring that the Shaman should recieve the book), a cheer went up from the crowd, but the onlookers became even more celebratory when Hagalaz renounced his unholy war against eternal, unshiftable balance itself.
All has returned to normal, once more... but wait! The Muses are still cursed to whatever affliction lies inside "Stones!" What shall we do? How can we break this curse, or endure it any longer? What does the future hold for us?
Alas, it seems things are only just beginning...
~Second Moon, Fifth Sun, Fourty-First Year of Yuri:
Amidst the chaos surrounding the Buyian occupation, something new was dwelling beneath the covers of the book "Stones." After it had been returned to us by Hagalaz, still under the effects of the Empathy-invoking dark aid, the Muses had all but forgotten about the perils the book had wraught. True, the curse had not been lifted, and we were mindful of this, but things were looking brighter. We were quite optimistic, and were more mindful of brewing tensions with the Forsaken.
That is when Stones attacked me. It took our confidence as opportunity, and unleashed a swift attack that drained my energy. In my last breaths before succumbing to unconsciousness, I asked Kessalia to bring the book to Lady Sarina, Elder of the Diviners, so that she might analyze it and find a way to lift the curse, once and for all.
With the sudden attack on Buya, the Muses were forced to flee, dragging my unconscious self out of the occupied kingdom of Buya. Our concerns after that (and after I awoke, a few days later) turned towards getting our home back rather than lifting the curse. Besides, as "Stones" was still being analyzed by the Diviners, there was nothing we could do.
However, tonight Lady Sarina called me out to the calm shore of the Vale, with something important to show me. As I approached, I heard a familiar humming sound. As members of the community gathered, mouths agape in apprehensive terror, Sarina pulled out "Stones," now shaking violently and glowing eerily, while emitting an ever-growing hum. She became cold, quite suddenly, and had a vision of slag beasts, the Sea Nymph, blackened waters, and the evil laughter of JaydePhoenix, growing ever-louder.
Suddenly, "Stones" flew out of her hands, and into mine, and opened itself to a specific curse. By our best estimates, it seems "Stones" tripled in its evil energies with the Sonhi Shamen occupying the tunnels to Buya, and mystics aiding the Nangen forces in the south. In other words, the chaotic energies surrounding the kingdoms with the current situations seemed to give "Stones" a life of its own. I could not control my own actions, and my own self shuddered with horror as I heard my voice reading the hex that "Stones" had turned itself to--the Blackwater Curse, that JaydePhoenix had used to poison the waters.
Those who have either experienced or studied their history will surely know of the time the waters were poisoned, and the Sea Nymph pleaded for the help of the community. Thanks largely to the Diviners, who helped to purify the waters, the Sea Nymph was able to place a protective seal on the water, and the curse itself materialized, in the form of Slag beasts. Thus, when the curse re-cast itself tonight, nearly twenty years later, the Sea Nymph's seal remained. However, it began to wane, and Lady Sarina knew this. She had everyone channel their energies to keep the seal strong, which they did. A flash of light came from the water, and everyone cheered as it seemed the curse had been stopped.
Suddenly, the Muses in attendance gained the visage of the Sea Nymph! As the evil energy of "Stones" was overpowered by the goodness of the Seas Nymph's seal, the Muses were "cursed" with her energy of goodness. However, the collision of those two energies had one more side effect... the curse materialized in the shape of a Spirit Dragon, flanked by two other, older dragons! At this point, Lady Sarina disappeared, and chaos truly overcame the Vale.
The community rushed to aid the Muses and Diviners by battling the Dragons, and for some time it seemed things might be lost. However, in the end, the community prevailed over them; the curse had been stopped, and it seemed things would return to semi-normal state once more...
...but where has Sarina gone?
~ Fifth Moon, Twenty-Ninth Sun, Forty-First Year of Yuri:
As the moon shone a beautiful blue over the Kingdom of Buya a few nights ago, members of the community gathered to break the curse of "Stones." The Muses, you see, had been cursed to whatever affliction or circumstance was written of in the evil book. The saga with Hagalaz had ended, but the effects of the Empathy Aid still lingered, and I often found Hagalaz offering to help with Muse business, accompany me on trips, protect me from danger, etc. We developed a friendship, and he came to be Graced by the Muse--though perhaps he was, all along. We are now engaged, and he has lent every bit of effort possible to helping find a way to shatter the curse of "Stones."
He finally found something, in the library of the Diviners; a ritual to transfer the curse and spirit of what we assumed to be JaydePhoenix's book, "Stones," into the Spirit Crystals of the Shamen, and then to a regular crystal through Sarina's spirit. So, on that eve, we had gathered: the Muses, Diviners, Shaman, cummonity members, and even the royalty! We prepared, unaware that we were wrong about the author of "Stones." Very wrong...
When the ritual was performed, Lady Sarina let out a sudden squeal; the ritual had failed, and the curse remained. Perplexed, disheartened, and left with no other options, I continued reading "Stones" where I had last left off. Awaiting yet another curse, I was instead shocked to find that, as the author's mental state seemed to sink further into madness, the chronicles of hexes, curses, and other dark aids quite abruptly became a diary. And, as I read the diary onward, it suddenly became clear who the true author of "Stones" was...
To quote the legend... "She wears her soul on her countenance. Snakes bit her through and through." Mupa. Mupa, lover of Sagu. Mupa, daughter of JaydePhoenix. And Mupa, mother of...?
The curse of "Stones" pressed on, this time affecting the royalty, as well as the Muses. I found myself thrust into the role of Mupa as Hu San Niang diligently read the diary entries, Mhul found himself reliving his past, and Lasahn suddenly became the Princess Yun, Mhul's ex-fiancee. As the diary progressed, I found myself dreaming strange dreams of various circumstances; most notably one of battling Mhul, as the terrified Yun looked on.
The diary progressed on, for hours on end, and it seemed that both the entries and the curse would never end. We learned many things of Mupa that we did not know before, most notably the scary notion that she and Sagu had a child, one that may roam the streets of Buya still.
As Hu diligently read on, watching certain Muses afflicted forced to act out different roles of the progressing diaries, she came across Mupa's logs leading up to the Shattering. It suddenly seemed as if the horrors of the twentieth year of Yuri would be unleashed once more, but just as suddenly as the saga of "Stones" had started, so it ended; upon the diary entry of the Shattering of the Onyx, a sudden surge of energy was felt by all in attendance, and the curse on the Muses shattered with it. It seemed all was over and done with, and our path retired to the circle, to rest for the first time in months. We left "Stones" under guard of Girl, confident that no one would dare to steal it from her.
However, the very next day, Girl erroneously threw "Stones" in a pile of overdue library books, and took it back to the Buya Library! As soon as she told me this, the Muses and I rushed to snatch the powerful and evil back into safety, only to be greeted by the Noble Fox, who had beat us there--"Stones" was clutched between his teeth!
As he ran towards the Vale, taunting us, he began to read where we had left off, and a Dark Forest began to sprout in the Vale! Numerous sightings of Onyx Crows and Onyx Trees have been reported since, and we know not what the Fox will do next.
So, even with the curse on the Muses lifted, "Stones" still threatens the Kingdom of the Winds. What will the next page hold for us?